200707

Politics

The Prime Minister accepts a copy of the Bega Clean Energy Action Plan
The Prime Minister accepts a copy of the Bega Clean Energy Action Plan

There is an election approaching, and for many, climate change will be a big issue. We at “Clean Energy for Eternity” avoid political allegiance but try very hard to identify and understand what each party is promising in terms of positive action on climate change. We want to make climate change a major election issue, because we think it deserves to be. We are not going to tell people how to vote, we merely want to present the issues in the clearest possible way.

It is very difficult to avoid being seen to be political. I have shaken hands with Andrew Constance, Wilma Chinnock, John Kaye, Gary Nairn, Mike Kelly and John Howard. Each time I do, a camera appears from somewhere, and I see the photo in the paper the next day. I am starting to feel a bit like a politician myself. The only difference is that I am not asking people to vote for “Clean Energy for Eternity”, and none of us are getting paid for the work that we are doing.

The Prime Minister visited the Bega Valley last week. I met him briefly and was able to present him with the Clean Energy Action Plan for meeting our targets of 50/50 by 2020. I was grateful for that opportunity, and look forward to some feedback from Mr Howard.

I was disappointed that the Prime Minister failed to address the issue of climate change in his speech on Wednesday. He knows that climate change is a big concern on the South Coast, and I thought this would have been a great opportunity for him to broach the subject. Instead he focussed on the water pipeline to Yellow Pinch Dam, low unemployment figures and the need to combat terrorism.

The day was met with a couple of protests, with a logging truck blockaded in the main street of Bega, and the Prime Minister confronted with the “budgie smuggler” who had “climate change” written across his chest, and one of our “50/50 by 2020” bumper stickers stuck to his rear end.

I would like to make it entirely clear that our community group “Clean Energy for Eternity” is not a protest group. Our message is about the positive benefits of being proactive about climate change. This allows us as a community and region to tap into what will be the most dynamic industry the world will see, the industry of renewable energy and climate change mitigation.

The logging truck and “budgie smuggler” protests were nothing to do with “Clean Energy for Eternity”. That is just not our style. We will continue to look at change, by promoting the advantages and opportunity of doing so.

Matthew Nott
Swindled by the swindler

“No flaws, no flaws, no flaws”. Thus spoke writer and director Martin Durkin after his interview with ABC’s Tony Jones about his film, The Great Global Warming Swindle.

ABC TV screened the Channel 4 Documentary on Thursday 12th July, followed by the Durkin interview, and an expert panel discussion hosted by Lateline’s Tony Jones. While Jones’ style may not appeal to all, his tough questioning revealed serious shortcomings in the film and exposed many weaknesses in the sceptics argument as presented by Durkin.

While slick and well presented, much of the documentary content is misleading – one example was a climate graph labelled “now” that stopped 17 years ago. The film declares “we are being told lies” but does not say by whom. It has stirred strong passions, with rebuttals by eminent scientists both here and overseas.

Oceanography Professor Carl Wunsch from Massachussetts Institute of Technology, fought to be removed from the film after his interview was taken out of context. On Lateline on 12 July he said “What I thought I was doing was making a film about the science of global warming. What I ended up being in is what I think is a political film. It really isn’t about the science at all, and I guess I’m somewhat troubled that TV companies around the world are treating it as though this were a science documentary. It’s not…”

During the panel, Nick Rowley (former advisor to Tony Blair) said the time for debating the science is over. The penalty for continued procrastination is very serious indeed and we must now manage the risk of observed climate change. The final comment from the floor echoed him, urgently calling for a national strategy on climate change.

Doubt is no longer an issue for businesses taking action to manage their risk. Dr Nikki Williams (CEO, NSW Minerals Council) pointed out that the coal industry has spent $1billion on low emission technology – a policy response made by a rational commercial entity identifying the magnitude of the risk and getting involved in solutions. Low carbon growth is smart business.

As environmental scientist and sceptic Professor Bob Carter said, it is impossible to get everyone to agree. It is only natural people are drawn to the set of values and ideals they believe in. Everyone is entitled to their point of view, but we owe it to our grandchildren and the planet to be well-informed on issues as crucial as climate change.

Far from a nail in the Global Warming coffin, the film and subsequent debate further confirms our need to take sensible action to manage the likely risks. Make up your own mind, but please check the source of your facts.

Further information can be found at: www.abc.net.au/tv/swindle/global-warming-links.htm and at www.cleanenergyforeternity.net.au
Clean Energy for Eternity 16th July 2007